Get your outdoor education with a snowshoe tour
By Alex McIntire
I’m a downhill skier. My wife’s a North Carolinian. We needed a happy medium between skiing at breakneck speeds and trapping ourselves under a blanket to binge watch old episodes of The Office all weekend. Which is why during the last weekend of January we grabbed some snacks, our 11-month-old and headed to Jackson, NH in search of an adventure.
A snowshoe tour seemed to fit the bill.
Driving up from Concord, NH, I’ll admit there were some concerns when it came to snow. Would there be enough? Are they even going to have tours available? Are we going to look ridiculous tramping around in snowshoes on grass?
Once we arrived the friendly staff quickly put our worries to rest. Yes, there’s snow. Yes, the tour is going out. No, you won’t look ridiculous.
A major relief considering I completely fear looking ridiculous. You never know who’s watching.
And so, with my daughter on my back in a backpack and my wife feeling like Sir Edmond Hillary and not even thinking about that big blanket, we were off.
Our tour of eight was led by a man you could only hope would be your tour guide for a two hour trek into the wilderness. He was like someone took Ernest Hemmingway, Santa Clause and Bear Grylls, threw them all in a pot, and baked up Peter Minnich. The full white beard, flannel hat, flip-up saw blade and overall jolliness all pointed to a candidate for America’s Next Top Tour Guide if ever that show debuts on TV.
Where our biggest concern was snow, I had forgotten that the phrase “tour guide” is basically Latin for, “Man who knows where snow is.” Our trip took us through the forest just east of Jackson’s small town center…where all the snow was. It wasn’t waste deep by any means, but the snowshoes were certainly practical.
As we got into it, my wife and I both came to the realization that the snowshoeing, while fun and great exercise, wasn’t even the best part. We had signed up for a gym class and received a history, biology, AND gym class.
We learned the history of the trails, the mountains, and the people that were involved in the construction of the trails. We learned about fungus can be used to make tea that is sold in Vermont, and that there are 14,000 types of lichen in the US. We came across bear claw marks in a tree and a long since abandoned and overgrown ski lift shack. We saw all the things you never see in the woods when you’re going to fast to see while downhill skiing or not moving at all when you’re at home watching all of Netflix.
A snowshoe tour should absolutely be on your next winter adventure itinerary.